I attended a book reading by Yann Martel last night at the Seattle Central Library as he travels to support his new novel The High Mountains of Portugal. Much of the discussion centered on the philosophical/religious symbolism in his works and, of course, Life of Pi was discussed at length. The woman in front of me at the signing had a Life of Pi tattoo on her forearm, which he genuinely seemed excited to see. Photos were taken. I was pleased he was willing to discuss process (and entertained a follow-up question I had during the signing). He was affable and came across as highly intelligent. I now have two first editions of his works, I’m pleased to say. I took some notes and hope to compile a series of anecdotes from other book readings in a future post.
In other news, I had a good week. My first draft continues to grow in size, as does the length of each chapter. I can feel myself overwriting and underwriting simultaneously. I can not be the first to do this. Right? I can see the lack of details in my setting descriptions, the lack of subtle emotion, and the inclusion of too many scenes that may or may not be on-theme. But it’s the first draft. It’s okay. “The first draft of anything is shit,” Ernest Hemingway said in one of his more famous quotes. I learned this past week to not beat myself up over a slower-than-expected pace and lower-than-desired quality. It’s okay for it to be shit. For now. It just has to get written. On to the links…
- How I Went From Writing 2,000 Words a Day to 10,000 Words a Day – The pantsers among you aren’t going to want to hear this, but this is an excellent case study in how knowing what you are writing ahead of time can dramatically boost your efficiency. This article by Rachel Aaron also details how to make the most of limited writing time for those with less-than-ideal time for writing due to other responsibilities.
- 8 Reasons Jane Austen Fans will Love Pride + Prejudice + Zombies – When I first saw an advertisement for this movie, I thought it was a joke. I had no idea that there was not only a novel by the same name, but this adaptation has been years in the making — and getting Austen fans excited. I try not to ever link to (or read) slideshow “articles” — they’re the scourge of the Internet if you ask me – but this one is user-friendly and informative. And has me looking forward to checking out the movie.
- Are You In This for the Long Haul? – I stumbled upon this post by paranormal author Jami Gold earlier this week and, well, it encapsulates my attitude towards my foray into fiction perfectly. My focus is not on cranking out a series of books tailor-made to the tastes of the day, but on writing a story I really want to tell. And then writing the others I also wish to share. I’m not counting on rocketing to the summit of the bestseller’s lists, but on a slow arduous climb up the flank. Gold’s post provides some comfort food for thought to those questioning their approach, their success (or lack thereof), and how it’s impacting their motivation.
- 8 Best-Sellers Started During National Novel Writing Month – I admit it. I always thought NaNoWriMo was a gimmick. A feel good social event that did little more than clog the e-shelves with unpolished, unpublishable, unedited dreck. That was my attitude years ago, coming entirely from a position of ignorance. Though I don’t imagine myself ever participating in a NaNo unless I just so happen to be coincidentally ready to begin a first draft in November, I do appreciate how helpful this type of event can be for plowing through that (shitty) first draft. As did the authors of these best-sellers. Seems like NaNo is a tool like any other, build with it what you will.
- Talking About Your Character; How to Describe Posture – I spent a good amount of time last week studying techniques for describing faces, posture, body types and how to convey emotions through body language. This was one of the more interesting articles I encountered. I felt the article’s tips on avoiding cliches and surprising the reader with unexpected postures were particularly helpful. The articles linked at the end of this post are also worth reading. I’ll share more links of this type in the future.
A New Dawn for the Mezzogiorno – My wife and I spent over a month last summer bicycle touring southern Italy, returning to our bikes in Rome and cycling across Abruzzo and south through Puglia. It was one of the highlights of our entire tour. For those who’ve only ever considered Tuscany, Rome, and the northern cities of Milan and Venice for your Italian sojourn, this article (and accompanying slideshow) is for you. The southern portion of Italy, the mezzorgiorno, contains an abundance of natural splendor, enchanting towns and cities, and a wealth of both Roman and Greek history. Not to mention the world’s best olive oil. Sorry Greece.
Post Image by David Schiersner, used under Creative Commons